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A guide on how to successfully navigate the January Transfer Window as a fan without going insane

How do you make it through the month of January without your head exploding as you attempt to wade through the sea of transfer rumours and speculation in print and online?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ignore anything from Football League World, HITC or Transfer Tavern

I think that this is a given for fans of every club in the land - if a story has originated on Football League World, HITC or Transfer Tavern, you can almost certainly guarantee that it’s a load of guff, sensationalised to harvest your clicks.

Take a look at the Sunderland feed on NewsNow, and you’ll see that amongst the respectable websites there’s a monsoon of crap from websites that have no interest in reporting actual news. Most of the time the writers aren’t fans of your club and their job is just to get as many people as possible to click the link.

So aye - if the story is on their page and it’s being spotlighted as an original piece, take it with a shovelful of salt and move on with your day.

Most websites regurgitate stories because they rely on clicks to stay alive.

Check how many followers an account has before you believe the word of @JoeBloggsJourno, as it’s probably some dick on a windup

We’ve all seen it - your mate in the groupchat asks “ere... have you heard that we’re in for Johnny Sameface? Just seen it there on Twitter” and then when you dig a little deeper they’ve got their information from a fake ITK account with about 200 followers doing a decent job of fooling innocent bystanders into believing they actually know what’s going on.

There are a few of those accounts doing the rounds this window and I’ve blocked them all. I advise you do the same.

I honestly wonder why these people even bother - have they not got owt better to do with their spare time?

If someone tells you a transfer rumour they’ve heard, ask them where they heard it from - because 9 times out of 10 it’s usually from one of these types on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the message boards and it’s almost always a load of tosh.

Most of the stuff you read in newspapers that has no substance behind it is a story fed to a writer by an agent who has an agenda to push, so approach everything with caution

I wrote something specifically about Ross Stewart which touches on this in more detail, but the first rule of a transfer rumour should always be to question the motive of whoever fed the story to the person reporting it.

Your best players are going to get linked all over the place online (and in mainly national newspapers like The Sun and The Daily Record) because there’s a mutually beneficial relationship between agents and journalists during transfer windows.

The agents get free publicity and drive up interest in their clients in order for them to cream off potential deals, whilst journalists get to write stories that rile up fans of the clubs that the players come from, thus translating to clicks - which make their bosses very happy.

You’re often only getting one side of the story, and as we all know, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle - and it’s not often you hear something conclusive direct from a football club or manager until a deal is actually done, and the player is stood with the scarf above their head posing for a picture.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Joel Lynch Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Just because they have a blue tick, doesn’t mean they’re reliable

You might have noticed that the rules on Twitter have changed a fair bit recently, and anyone daft enough to send Elon Musk eight quid a month can have a blue tick.

Having a blue tick once upon a time was a sign of legitimacy, because in order to gain verification you’ve had to go through some sort of process in which you’ve been checked out and vetted. We’ve had ours for a number of years now and whilst I’m not really sure it matters a great deal, it at least meant once upon a time that if anyone was looking for a Sunderland fansite to help out with something that we are at least legit.

Twitter Blue is deceptive though and if you bang that blue badge next to a fake journalist's name or a dressed-up ITK transfer rumours account, you’re probably going to fool some people.

Even then, in recent years they’ve handed out blue badges to just about anyone with a sports journalism degree, so go figure - having a blue tick means nowt any more and just because the person saying something has one, it doesn’t mean they’re reliable.

But you can trusttttttt innnn meeeeeeee.... honest.

Don’t let yourself get dragged into debates online with people over transfer news, particularly if there is nothing beyond rumour to suggest the discussion you’re having is even necessary

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? I did it today at work with a lad who told me Ross Stewart was off as soon as Rangers come in for him. We aren’t privy to the majority of the details, yet you can bet as soon as you refresh social media you’ll see two people having a ding dong over a transfer rumour that came half-baked from your favourite ITK account.

If there’s something conclusive to talk about then great - go for it. But how often is that the case? It’s really not worth spending hours of your day arguing with strangers on the internet, though.

If you can’t/don’t want to ignore the gossip, then remember to keep calm and assume everything anyone says is just that

Having said all of this, just like anyone else I’m a sucker for a good transfer story during the month of January, and knowing what is going on during the process of signing a player is quite fun. I’ve run various transfer stories here on RR over the years, and it’s nice passing stuff along that you’ve been made aware of.

So if like me you can’t ignore the speculation, at least keep your cool. Assume that nothing is true until it’s confirmed as true, and that way your head won’t fall off when the bloke off the telly says you’re selling your star striker.


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